Last Friday we had the happy chance of being invited by Baris in GK3. Located in a market right next to Mainland China, the restaurant is housed on the first floor of the building accessed through a lift that the concierge directs you to. The restaurant is decked up tastefully in Mediterranean and Anatolian style, in keeping with the fact that it specializes in Turkish cuisine and serves up food from across the Mediterranean and the Arab world. The blue and white mosaic on the floor and walls was enchanting and the windows had Turko-Arab style lattice for grills with the aforementioned blue-green mosaic on the border.
We decided to settle with a menu that the servers and chef had decided would be the best for us to have a comprehensive and wholesome experience of what the restaurant has to offer, with a specific eye on Turkish cuisine. And boy were we glad.
We first started out with a pita basket with two kinds of bread (pita and a thicker wowshi like bread) which was served with Almond Tarator, Olive oil and Jajik sauce dips. The breads were an excellent start off to our meal and we couldn’t get enough of the dips. The freshness of the pita was as good as it gets and reminded us why we keep falling back to Mediterranean cuisine again and again when we want to have some healthy carbs.
We were then served the soup course, which consisted of Mercimek Corbasi with croutons. This was a traditional Turkish glazed onion soup which was light and yet flavourful. It was a great palate cleanser and was prepared carefully so as to not be too hearty and yet be delicious. This could give French onion soups a run for their money any day.
Next, we were served the cold Turkish Mezze Plate. This had Mercimek Kofte, a delightful red lentil kofte, or kofta as we are familiar with and would be instantly recognized and loved by millions of Indians who enjoy fried lentil fritters; acili ezme, a spicy tomato and onion paste which was absolutely wonderful with the accompanying bread; the ubiquitous hummus, which was as good as they get; Haydari, which was a sour garlic and yogurt paste; and a beetroot labneh, which was another kind of yogurt paste. Along with this was dolmeh, which was stuffed grape leaves with a sour tasting exterior and a crunchy filling. All of these were served with Lavash bread with sesame toppings that was an absolute delight to eat. Even more so than the pita bread. Lavash is a typically Turkish and Armenian unleavened flatbread that has achieved worldwide fame.
Post this, we were served the Ispanar Kebab, that was a spinach version of the shish kebab served on a bed of crouton-like crispy bread and pickles. This was surprisingly soft and velvety and felt almost like it had a meat texture. Following this, we had the Cigar Borek, which was crispy cigar-shaped rolls stuffed with deliciously salty feta cheese, onions and parsley with a creamy cacik sauce (much like the Greek tzatziki.
Subsequent to this, we were given the last vegetarian course of the day, the Mantar Yahnisi. It consisted of velvety sauteed mushrooms with onions and garlic on a bed of creamy hummus which was again served with rolled lavash. This fragrant mushroom coupled with the hummus and bread was almost divine tasting and was the perfect way to top up the vegetarian segment of our meal.
Then came the dazzling meat course, or as we would have said for another restaurant, the main course. The difference between Mediterranean cuisine and others is that the former places as much emphasis, if not more, on vegetarian delicacies and the flesh is not much missed. However, as we were about to realise, they were merely saving the best for the last. We started off with a Urfa Kebab, which was a spicy ground lamb kebab, similar in appearance and texture to a shish kebab or (koobideh if you’re Iranian); but with so much more flavour. The spices and the meaty flavours were bursting out of the soft morsels. This was again served with lavash and cacik sauce.
After this, we had the Dumanlanmish Tavuk. This was an oval pizza. Old comfort food with an entirely new twist. In keeping with its mediterranean origins, it had olives, green chillies, basil and the good old mozzarella cheese. We lapped it up in no time. This was good preparation for the grand finale.
This was the Kibrit Kebabi that the chef himself insisted that we have, even as we were reluctant to gorge more thanks to how much we had been pampered. And boy were we glad he did. This seemed to be the flagship dish of the restaurant. It consisted of shredded buff loin on a bed of potato crisps tendered and bound by pumpkin. The loin had been butter fried lending it an even smoother texture than it already had thanks to the meticulous cooking the buff pieces were prosaically defined as leaflets, but the sheer flavour and goodness of the meat surely deserves more gushing over in words. The chef told us that this is normally served over pita bread but he’d innovatively added pumpkin and potato crisps instead to make it easier to eat and provide a unique flavour. The inner juices of the buff were oozing out of the dish and drenching the base in its delicious flavours. This was also served with lavash although it was drowned out by the brilliance of the main dish.
After this excellent conclusion to the entrees, all that remained was to conclude our meal with some excellent dessert. The sheer brilliance of the meal had built up very high expectations for the dessert, and the Backlava Duo that was whipped up for us fulfilled this to very satisfying effect. Backlava is the most distinctive and well known Turkish and near eastern/Persian dessert and is considered a hallmark of the culture. It was a baked dessert consisting of two pieces of hand-rolled phyllo dough full of buttery goodness. It was stuffed with walnut and pistachio which lent it a crunchy flavour and had been soaked in cinnamon syrup, that gave it the characteristic sweet and sticky flavour. One of the pieces was the typical rectangular shape while the other one was long and cylindrical, a quirky innovation.
Thus ended our stupendous meal. The soft music and aesthetic surroundings in harmony with the soundtrack were the perfect accompaniment to our wonderful meal and contributed to the experience. This restaurant is one that would be criminal to miss out on if you live in the area and is one of the lesser known gems in South Delhi.
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